One tech company is aiming higher than the skies. Switzerland-based Sceye is launching a new type of high-altitude airship in the United States. The blimp-like aircraft will monitor crops and weather and bring much-needed aid to rural areas—from miles above Earth.
“Up we go into the wild blue yonder,” says the song. It’s a God-given impulse for humans to search the skies . . . and beyond. But no matter how high the journey, they will never travel beyond the reach of the Creator: “For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” (Psalm 108:4)
Mikkel Vestergaard founded aerospace start-up Sceye in 2014. Vestergaard is a well-known humanitarian (person who helps with projects that support human welfare). He has worked on numerous ventures to assist disadvantaged people, including personal water filters and mosquito nets.
At first glance, Vestergaard’s Sceye is a different type of business. Its product is endurance airships.
Engineers build Sceye airships from an innovative fabric that is both strong and ultralight. They run on solar energy. Each one will be able to transport a variety of communications, imaging, and radar equipment.
These airships aren’t just giant balloons. Sceye engineers are currently working on aircraft that can hover about 65,000 feet (12 miles) in the air. The floating vessels reside in the stratosphere—the area lower than satellites and higher than aircraft and drones.
The unmanned high-flyers are able to maintain a single position for long periods of time. Pilots on the ground will control the soaring ships.
Staying put is helpful for several of the jobs performed by the airships. Their main purpose is improving communication for drones, aircraft, and satellites.
Currently, Sceye officials are working on a deal to provide high-speed wireless access to the Navajo Nation and other areas currently with limited (or zero!) service.
“The [COVID-19] emergency has amplified the need for universal access to . . . a networked world,” Vestergaard says. “There is a massive gap between the connected and unconnected.”
In addition to these important services, the airships could allow scientists to observe weather patterns. Public agencies might also be able to track certain activities, such as drug or human trafficking.
Sceye chose New Mexico as its U.S. production center and launch site. The hub is beginning with five airships. Vestergaard hopes someday to expand to other areas of the country.
According to the Sceye website, the sky-high airships could help to “better connect and protect people and our planet.”